Kevin Spacey Is A Surprising Pick To Host The Tonys

by Victoria McNally
Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

Frank Underwood from House Of Cards may be a Machiavellian, mustache-twirling (if he had one, at least) megalomaniac — but the actor who plays him, Kevin Spacey, seems like one of the classiest acts around. Despite that, I bet that if you were going to list off the people you'd most expect to host the Tony Awards, odds are that Spacey would probably not have a spot on that list. And yet, this year he'll be doing just that as the Broadway community celebrates the biggest theatrical achievements of the 2016-2017 season. Of all people, why is Kevin Spacey hosting the Tonys?

Like most A-list actors, Kevin Spacey is no stranger to the stage; in fact, he actually got his start on Broadway, performing with his mentor Jack Lemmon in a 1986 production of Long Day’s Journey Into Night, which was eventually made into a TV movie. In 1991, he won a Tony award for Best Featured Actor In A Play thanks to his role in Lost In Yonkers; he was also nominated in 1999 for Best Lead Actor In A Play for starring in The Iceman Cometh.

Since becoming a film and television star, Spacey has continued to engage in his love of the theater; he was the artistic director for the Old Vic Theatre in London from 2003 to 2015, and just a week after the Tonys end he’ll be starring as ACLU founder Clarence Darrow for a two-night performance at the Arthur Ashe Stadium in Queens. Yes, you read that right: he's performing a one-man show in a stadium. "There's a lot of audience participation. I go out into the audience, I make them read things, I choose them as my juries," Spacey told CBS News about the performance. "There's something, I think, really exciting about an audience watching an audience watching a play."

Of course, although plays are a huge part of what makes the Great White Way shine. most people think of musicals when they think of Broadway. And believe it or not, Spacey can also carry a tune; he starred as the lounge singer Bobby Darin in the 2004 movie Beyond the Scene, and in 2014 he held a concert in Washington D.C. to benefit his foundation. He also recently dropped in on Billy Joel so the two could perform “New York State Of Mind” together.

Suffice it to say, even though Spacey isn’t quite as synonymous with the theater as someone like Lin-Manuel Miranda or Kevin Kline, he’s a perfect man for the job of hosting the Tonys. However, Spacey himself will admit he wasn’t the first choice to host the Tonys this year; according to The New York Post, Tina Fey, James Corden, Neil Patrick Harris and Hugh Jackman all passed first. “I’d say I was about the 25th person they asked,” he told the Post. “But look — it’s a great gig. And I also know from my own career that it’s often the person way down the line who ends up getting the job.”

Even if Spacey wasn't anybody's first choice, clearly he's got the talent to make this year's Tony Awards memorable. And in the meantime, can't somebody cast him in another musical already? I don't know why, but I bet he'd be a fascinating John Wilkes Booth in Stephen Sondheim's Assassins, if anybody ever felt like making a movie of that. Just saying.